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Many system players started their seasons or have plans to do so
NHL prospects are scattered across the globe in various leagues now more than ever. In an effort to provide an update, here are the latest known plans and whereabouts for those prospects in the Colorado Avalanche system.
In one of the few North American leagues currently playing a regular season—although it’s had its own share of pauses—captain Justin Barron returned to the Halifax Mooseheads lineup several weeks ago after a procedure in his shoulder to clear up any future issue with blood clots. He has produced five assists in six games thus far.
Alex Beaucage has played in eight games as Rouyn-Noranda was put on a two-week pause but is back in action now. He’s been one of the top players in the league, scoring 13 points in those eight games with eight goals.
Current plans indicate a February 4th start date with the issue of body checking to iron out among other considerations before returning to play. This impacts 2020 third-round pick Jean-Luc Foudy.
The target date for the league right now is January 8th with camps to begin right after Christmas. Luka Burzan and Trent Miner’s seasons are on hold until then.
Bowen Byram is awaiting his fate and for either the NHL or WHL to schedule games so he can begin his season. However, in the meantime he was invited to Hockey Canada’s World Junior Championship evaluation camp starting on November 16th, along with Barron and Alex Newhook. From there, the selected team will prepare and get up to game speed before entering the bubble in Edmonton before the tournament begins on Christmas Day.
Sasha Mutala was loaned to the Grande Prairie Storm of the AJHL until December 20th and has already participated in several preseason games. The regular season kicks off on November 13th.
Boston College intends to begin on November 20th, which would be the start of the season for Drew Helleson and Colby Ambrosio. Newhook will be with Team Canada in Red Dear, Alberta, for World Junior selection camp at that time.
There is also a start date for Sampo Ranta with Minnesota, starting on November 19th after the Big Ten conference recently announced its initial 2020 slate of games.
Similarly, Notre Dame has its first game scheduled for this Friday, November 13th, which will see newly named captain Nate Clurman, as well as Nicky Leivermann and Ryder Rolston return to the ice.
In the NCHC, Omaha will host a kick-off tournament for all conference teams over several weeks beginning on December 1st. Tyler Weiss will begin his season then.
Matt Stienburg hasn’t yet announced any plans to return to Cornell. However, he found an opportunity to play in the meantime, joining the West Kelowna Warriors in the BCHL for the past month and playing a preseason tournament called the Okanagan Cup. That regular season begins in early December.
Martin Kaut has been adamant about finding a place to play. First by convincing Joe Sakic to allow him to play in the Czech Extraliga for his childhood team Pardubice, where he got in four games and scored a goal in overtime before the league was shut down due to COVID-19. When games were paused, Kaut found a new team to continue his preparations for Avalanche training camp: He is now in Sweden playing for MODO in the Allsvenskan, where he has two goals and an assist in three games.
Adam Werner is the other recent Colorado Eagle who found somewhere to play until there is a North American pro season. He is currently with Vita Hästen, also in the Allsvenskan. The upside of joining a team in that league is they will release players on loan to the NHL when their camps begin. While with Vita Hästen, Werner has started four games and has a 3.66 GAA and .866 save percentage.
Newly drafted Nils Åman is in the midst of his 2020-21 season with Leksands in the SHL. He has chipped in an assist in 12 games.
Justus Annunen was always going to play this season in Finland despite signing an entry-level contract last spring. He has stuck to a relatively normal schedule with Kärpät in the Liiga, where he is working his way back into the regular swing of game action after starting the season late. Annunen has started five games with a 2.20 GAA and .894 save percentage.
The KHL has been playing its regular season since September, and Nikolai Kovalenko is in action for Lokomotiv where he’s scored seven points, including three goals in 13 games. He’s been hot lately, scoring most of his points in the last couple weeks, including the KHL’s goal of the week.
Nikolai Kovalenko. Russian tank. pic.twitter.com/DyjfefIuAx
— KHL (@khl_eng) November 2, 2020
Daniil Zhuravlyov missed time in preseason with a broken arm, but he is now back on the ice with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL. He’s contributed two assists in 10 games thus far.
Shamil Shmakov has returned to Russia after a one-year sojourn in the USHL. He currently plays in the VHL for Toros Neftekamsk, where he’s started eight games with a 2.33 GAA and .920 save percentage.
The Utah Grizzlies announced a start date of December 11th as they are part of a 13 team group who chose to begin their season before the rest of the league aims for a mid-January kick-off. It remains to be seen if any NHL-contracted Avalanche prospects are expected to report to Utah to participate as a warm-up to an eventual Avalanche training camp or the AHL season, which is now tentatively set for February 5th.